Friday, January 14, 2011

How fatiguing are Skirmishes? Non-Grid-Mini Skirmishes aided by Mass Combat

I play airsoft and I'm very much aware of how far I am from what is considered "fit for military duty". In RPGs, my Character is the Hero, not me and his stats are MUCH better than my own. It helps that I try to experiment and play with other airsofters who play RPGs, so the post game discussion tends to be in GURPS stats and checks.

Fatigue is so important, that I find even computer games that have no stat or way to measure it nerfed. Every tactical decision is influence by one's energy reserves. It is a grave miscalculation to be fatigued too badly that you can't shoot, think, or talk straight when performing an action. In the case of commanders, soldiers will often say yes even when they can't perform the action. The spirit may be willing but the flesh is weak, when commanders ignore obvious signs of fatigue when leading troops, this can easily lead to disaster.

Skirmishes are very fatiguing, even in GURPS stats there are many factors the game system has left OPTIONAL but GMs can put back on the table if they want players to really appreciate the Fitness and Difficulty the tasks their Heroic characters are performing. In the end all these feats are appreciated Relatively to what the GM and the Players can communicate.

Bad Terrain:
Soft Foliage can hamper movement. These long grasses pull at limbs and any piece of equipment that can be snagged. Sometimes these plants, combined, can be as tough as rope requiring blades to clear a path.
Ruling. The GM can just add encumbrance or FP cost to movement.
Uneven ground and Encumbrance can break the smaller bones in the ankles or trip and fall to sharp rocks that can wound or worse: break equipment.
Ruling. Jumping may be necessary to overcome this quickly, at least at 3/4ths max speed. Thats a DX check or a Per Check, also apply the Enc penalty. Its worth a PC's while to invest 2cp for a +1 to Jumping in this case. This counts as Sprinting and fatigues just as much.
Visual Obstruction. Grass hides dangers, from growing over small pits or sharp rocks, to traps.
Ruling. No Per check or Dex Save, when on a Run. Half of Full move, -2 to -4 Per or Dex depending on conditions. Characters may want to Jump to avoid places all together, go back to ruling above.
Footing and Inclines. The steeper the incline the more difficult the footing. Loose dirt or grass can make things slippery.
Ruling. This requires extra effort to plow upward, +1FP cost, or Dex Checks affected by Incline penalty and Equipment. -5 is hard, anything that in the GM's call would give anyone a hard time, -2 for difficult, same call. This is better to rule on experience. Failed Dex requires 1d more seconds.

Skirmishes without the use of hex Grids.
I think skirmishes or combat engagements need more context and ways to resolve without girds or miniatures. Narrative and descriptive methods are difficult because it needs a set of assumptions.

Roles and Assumptions:
  • Blockers and Tanks are Fron-tline and Clustered together. Medium Infantry are Loose formation, Heavy infantry are tight formation. Heavy infantry have special bonuses vs Shock and Ranged attacks because of discipline and large shields.
  • Flankers are detached and take 1FP to join the Main Body, or 1 less FP to flank or Circle. They require a separate perception check. Higher Mobility and Stealthier can be placed farther. Flankers must dictate where they are relative to the main force: Forward or Advanced, or Very Advanced, or Far forward (double or tipple the FP costs to respectively) Wing/Flank or Rear guard,
  • Ranged Support or Light Infantry are behind the Blockers. They gain +1DB from Heavy Infantry. In Close engagement they are far enough to use their Ranged weapons effectively. Engaging them requires a successful Opposed Tactics Roll, note that the amount of Blockers and Flank guards affect the Circumstantial Modifier (use Mass TS Combat Ratio
    • Group Causalities uses GURPS mass Combat rules. Used Mass Combat rules to Resolve the effects of NPC elements performance. This can be done in the background instead of rolling for every NPC, the GM just rolls the performance of units and telling the roll results in the narrative cues for the PCs.

  • FP costs pretty much dictate tactics, they can also be used to work back details. These are 1 minute FP costs. Skirmishes are moving battles, they are not like duels. Typically these are in minutes and these engagements last only 3d seconds before the battle tide will require a new set of movements or opportunities spring up. Slow and Reserved movements, intended to conserve energy may ignore the FP cost but take x2 to x4 (1d3+1) the amount of time to execute.

    Tactics, Discipline (Soldiering, warrior, or Combatant Professional Skill) and Athletic (Mount's athletics) rolls are important in these maneuvers. Leaders tactics (Will for maneuvers that require force of personality to inspire or IQ requires superior organization, or HT requiring the leader have the energy to move around adequately), everyone following rolls Soldier IQ (quickly organize themselves), HT (in a tiring formation and keeping up) or Will (discipline).

    Failure depends on context, most common is lost time in delays, catching one's breath, weaknesses, or shuffling into place. In the 3d seconds roll, the element might have to take one less die instead , acting on the end of the worse die result in seconds instead. Crit failure means one less die being able to act on a the number of seconds after the highest die FOR NPCs No action or useless at the moment.
    Unable to act doesn't mean defenseless, assume they are taking All-out-defense or Regular defense.
    Ex. A roll of 2, 3 and 4. Failure means only 4 and 3 (7) seconds of significant actions, acting only after the first 2 seconds pass. Crit failure means Only 4 seconds of actions.
    Feel free to use Mount's movement and HT instead, on a mounted moving skirmish.
    • FP cost close to Engage. Combat and Running have very similar the same FP over time cost. 1FP in the first 10-15 seconds then 1FP per minute. I would ignore the 10second FP adrenaline burst and focus on the Sustained Running Effort Level of 1FP/min/encumbrance. That is about 120-180 yards, which is basically bow shot. All things being equal, the GM can just ask for 1FP*Enc*terrain modifier.
    • FP cost to Flank. It is the Cost to Close and Engage *2/3rds more and a stealth \and appropriate Roll.
    • FP cost to Circle Around. Same as Cost to Close and Engage x2 to x3 and a stealth or and appropriate Roll.
    • FP cost to Break away Retreat. x2 of cost to close and engage and and appropriate Roll.

    Keeping track of things. Again Mass Combat Cards come to mind in keeping track of things. Enemy cards being face down and stacked to hide their numbers only until full visual confirmation, even then requiring a Soldier and Tactics IQ check since there are tactics that are designed to prevent soldiers from knowing the actual force they are fighting (for one's own side and opponents). Dummy or Blank cards are helpful in hiding real force numbers.

    If you look at the Spaces created by the Lines, each should be enough to illustrate where are the relative positions of units with cards.
    • Units Engage are in the Front Line.
    • Units as Flank Guards will be at the Flanks.
    • While those at the rear, are at the rear.
    The relative positions point out who can easily move to where.

    Ex. Right flank guard in the GM's side Can't engage the Right flank guard of the Player Side without having to move through the center (2 actions) or circle through the rear center then GM's left flank.

    • Moving beside Opposing forces require Tactics, Soldier, and Athletics or Movement roll and FP cost as described above in the previous topic.
    • Ranged attacks can attack adjacent areas, when unengaged. When engaged it can be done, but circumstances make the ranged attackers very vulnerable when their attention is not to their immediate and dangerous surroundings.
    • It is Ideal to get to the opponent's Rear, note that Circling will just allow Rear units to arrive at a flank with a contest of perception for the targets about to be flank.
    • This assumes players are all of one side, 3 sided battles can be done I'll just leave it for anyone to improvise how.

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